Celebrated agricultural scientist and photographer Dr. Nowazesh Ahmed passed away on November 24.
Dr. Ahmed (born 1935), was a guest speaker at the finale of 'Celebrating Life', a programme organised by The Daily Star and Standard Chartered Bank, held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre last Tuesday night. While leaving the venue, he collapsed and was immediately rushed to National Institute of Cardio Vascular Diseases where attending doctors pronounced him dead. According to the doctors, the veteran photographer suffered from a massive cardiac arrest.
In his last speech at the 'Celebrating Life' programme, Dr. Ahmed said that photography deserves undivided dedication. "Nowadays people tend to think anyone carrying a camera is a photographer. One needs much dedication to be a photographer," he said.
He headed the jury panel of Celebrating Life 2009 Photography contest.
Dr. Ahmed is considered a pioneering Bangladeshi photographer. He was born in Manikganj district. His father Khan Bahadur Nazibuddin Ahmed was a distinguished personality of the region.
“Photography has been my passion since childhood. My elder brother Naibuddin Ahmed used to be an amateur photographer and I was inspired by him. I had the chance to use his camera,” said Dr. Ahmed. His camera focused on typical elements of Bangladesh -- boats, riverbanks, farmers, rural lifestyle, mustard-fields and cornfields. He mainly liked to work in the black and white medium.
In 1952, a joint photography exhibition was held at Agriculture College, Tejgaon. The participants were Naib Uddin Ahmed, Nowazesh Ahmed and Amanul Haque. Sixty photographs were displayed at the exhibition. The exhibition received high acclaim for its varied themes and rich photographic quality.
In 1954, Ahmed received a Fulbright Scholarship from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He studied Plant Genetics and Plant Breeding. While studying at the University of Wisconsin (in 1957), Ahmed's photos were selected to participate in an exhibition by The Museum of Modern Art and Life Time Magazine. According to the photographer, it was a rare moment in his life.
In Bangladesh Dr. Ahmed also attained recognition as a genetic scientist. He developed two types of tea.
In 1960, he returned to Dhaka and joined as scientific advisor at Duncan Brothers. Later, he joined the Tea Research Institute as senior scientific officer. Eventually, Ahmed became the director of the then Pakistan Tea Board.
Ahmed moved to London in 1971 and joined Action Bangladesh. British Radical Group and Action Bangladesh jointly organised several cultural activities in favour of the Liberation War. In London, Ahmed played a significant role in generating awareness on what was happening in the then East Pakistan.
In 1972, Ahmed returned to Bangladesh and concentrated on publishing his books “Photography-Bangladesh” and “Development Agriculture of Bangladesh”. As an agricultural advisor, he worked at CIDA.
“In 1980, I joined Asian Development Bank as agricultural advisor. During my tenure in Asian Development Bank from 1980 to 1990, I frequently had to visit Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand for agricultural development among the countries. During the tenure, I concentrated on the life of Buddha community. I started to record the activities of Buddha Bikho through my lens."
In recent times, Dr. Ahmed published two books on poetry of Rabindranath Tagore and Jibanananda Das. Besides publishing the books, he made two slide documentaries on these two great poets.
A photo-artiste of his stature will be missed greatly in the cultural arena of Bangladesh.